Russ and I finished this puzzle last night, and as you can see, the theme is baking—specifically, Betty Crocker! So the first thing I have to say about this puzzle experience is that I was both surprised and relieved that looking at all these baking mixes and cakes and other goodies did not make me excessively hungry while doing the puzzle. We generally do the puzzle after dinner, so I’m not hungry to start off with, and I think the other reason is that when you’re doing a puzzle, your focus is so super-concentrated. You’re not looking at cake, you’re looking at yellow that’s shaded with brown, and a different shade of brown on top, and maybe a line of red or green on the side. So, that saved me. We’ve previously done a puzzle of candy, and another of donuts, and I had the same experience: puzzles do not make me hungry.
But that’s not what I came here to talk about.
When we got down to the end, and only had two pieces left, we placed one, and then…what??? We could not see another open space for the last piece, so we ran our hands over the puzzle up and down, back and forth, and still could not find where the final piece was supposed to go! I was beginning to think the puzzle manufacturer was playing a practical joke on us. How could we be done with this puzzle, and there was still one piece left?
Well, eventually, as I moved from one end of the puzzle to the other, I discovered that right in the very middle, there was indeed an open space. The final piece was almost completely brown, and the table beneath the puzzle is completely brown, so we were not able to easily see it, and strangely we also had not been able to feel it. But there it was! Open space, final piece….no extra pieces in this puzzle.
Later on, as I was thinking about what an incredibly weird experience it would have been to finish a puzzle, and yet still have one piece left, something important occurred to me. In a previous post, I had compared the whole of our lives to a tapestry: if we look at it from the bottom, it’s a mess. When we die and go to Heaven, as we look down on the finished product of our life, the completed tapestry, we’ll finally be able to see that the mess was really making something quite beautiful, and quite complete.
In a similar way, life is like a jigsaw puzzle. While we’re in the middle of doing it, we only have a partial view, and we may not believe that every piece is going to eventually find its exact right place, so that in the end we will see a complete and beautiful picture. While we’re in the middle of the process of putting this all together, it feels quite incomplete, and jumbled, and maybe even confusing. How many times have you done a puzzle and been looking for one particular piece, and ended up saying, “I’m convinced this piece is missing!” but then, when it is all said and done, the piece shows up and is placed, and the finished product ends up being complete and beautiful? Obviously it was there all along, but for some unknown reason, you were not always able to find it and see it and place it where it belonged.
God is the puzzle manufacturer. Our lives are a puzzle. We put our puzzle together one piece at a time, and in the end, every piece gets placed, and we have a finished product. And it’s beautiful. And there are no extra pieces. Everything that goes into our puzzle has a reason for being there, and in the end all these pieces interlock together to form a whole.
Our puzzle manufacturer is not going to play a joke on us, not going to give us some random extra piece to vex us at the end of it all. Everything is there for a purpose, and the purpose is to make something beautiful. And when our beautiful puzzle is completed, we will no longer be puzzled at all about what the purpose of any of it has been.
Yes, I got all this..from doing a puzzle.